DÚLRA knows his limits – and this week it was time to admit defeat and call for the  expert. Because Dúlra wants to be sure that when some of our most stunning birds arrive back in Belfast after six months in distant lands, they will know where they can find a safe and welcoming home.

And so it was the job of a top electrician to repair the purpose-built sound system that is so crucial in trying to attract nesting house martins.

The whole ingenious contraption was designed by swift guru Mark Smyth to attract the bird that he devotes his life to saving. The small amplifier takes a pen drive on which you can save bird calls downloaded from the internet, and a long wire leads to a mini-speaker that hangs outside.

The sound system was worse for wear after its first year of use. Last year Dúlra set the amplifier on his bedroom windowsill, with the long, thin cable stretching out the window where the speaker hung from a hook under the gutter. But the rain damaged the speaker and the connections were all frayed. Dúlra tried to mend them with insulation tape but to no avail.

And so top electrician Marcos Duncan was called upon and it took him just a couple of minutes to repair it. “As jobs go, it’s got to be one of my most unusual ones,” he smiled. And Dúlra has to add that it was also one of his least profitable – he offered his services free in the knowledge that he’s helping a struggling bird!

You can buy house martin ‘cups’ – artificial nests usually made out of concrete that look just like the ones the birds make out of mud – and put them under your eaves. Dúlra’s had them up for a few years but he knows they could be there for a century without a house martin noticing. These birds – gabhlán binne in Irish – nest in colonies and are attracted to places where other martins nest. If they hear the other birds calling, they’ll drop out of the sky to investigate.

It normally takes them three weeks to build their nest and it’s no easy job trying to stick them to a roof using nothing but wet mud and saliva. If they don’t get it right, their family falls to their death. And so finding a ready-made home held up with metal screws should be a godsend.

These birds are a sheer delight, their aerial acrobatics are both mind-boggling and graceful. To wake up in the morning to find them swooping outside your window would be a dream come true for Dúlra. He’d never need to set an alarm again because he’d be up at dawn every morning to watch them! Fellow scribe Squinter has had a pair nesting under the eaves of his house for years – why they chose his home while snubbing Dúlra’s is one of nature’s great mysteries. It’s an annual source of envy that Dúlra is determined to put right this year.

Swifts don’t arrive in Ireland for another month so for the next few weeks the wee amplifier can be given over to house martin calls.

Last year was the first for the new sound system and it was a learning curve. Dúlra was hesitant about blasting the sound out all day. This year – sorry, neighbours – he’s giving it his best shot. So from next week he’s putting on full whack, round the clock. The neighbours may hope that he gets an early success – otherwise it’s going to be a long, noisy summer!

• Reader Colin Cullen photographed a great spotted woodpecker in his garden in Hawthorn Glen. With so much sad news about nature and the environment, it’s brilliant that this once-widespread Irish bird has returned centuries after its extinction.This beautiful and fascinating bird hasn’t reached Dúlra’s garden yet, but with this latest evidence, it’s not far away!

FÁILTE: A lucky Hawthorn reader snapped a great spotted woodpecker in his garden

FÁILTE: A lucky Hawthorn reader snapped a great spotted woodpecker in his garden

• If you’ve seen or photographed anything interesting, or have any nature questions, you can text Dúlra on 07801 414804.